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Teachers in Whitstable 'overcoming anxiety' about school return

It's not just parents who are concerned about a return to the classroom this morning.

A Kent head teacher has revealed how staff are “overcoming their own anxiety about leaving their homes”.

Annie Knoupe, head teacher of Whitstable Junior School
Annie Knoupe, head teacher of Whitstable Junior School

Whitstable Junior School head Annie Knoupe told parents teachers are preparing classrooms and learning new systems put in place.

Schools across the town will welcome back Reception, Year 1 and Year 6.

Pupils will return to “bubbles” where they will stay in the same room with the same classmates and teachers to reduce risk and mixing.

Social distancing measures along with increased cleaning and hygiene practices will be enforced.

Mrs Knoupe says she understands it will be “daunting” for pupils and parents.

“All the staff who might be in school on June 1 are here at school today,” she stated in a letter.

Schools across the town have outlined their plans for reopening - if the government deems it safe to do so - for Reception, Year 1 and Year 6. Stock image
Schools across the town have outlined their plans for reopening - if the government deems it safe to do so - for Reception, Year 1 and Year 6. Stock image

“They are getting the rooms ready, learning about all the new systems we are putting into place and for some overcoming their own anxiety about leaving their homes. I thank them all from the bottom of my heart for their commitment and dedication to getting the school as safe as we possibly can for all your children.”

The school day will finish early every Friday at 1pm to enable “thorough cleaning” to take place - but key worker children can stay until 3pm.

Parents had to inform the school whether they wanted their child to return.

Online learning is set to continue for those who remain at home.

Parents at St Alphege Infant School - headed by Jacqui Spinks - were told in a letter not to share anxieties with their children in Reception returning on June 8, if deemed safe to do so.

Parents at St Alphege Infant School were told in a letter not to share anxieties with their children. Picture: Chris Davey
Parents at St Alphege Infant School were told in a letter not to share anxieties with their children. Picture: Chris Davey

It said: “Our first message is please do not worry, whether you have indicated that you would like your child to remain at home, return to school or are unsure; you will make the very best of an uncertain situation.

“Please know that we will support any decision you make.”

Joy Lane Primary is preparing to open after June 8 - first to nursery and Year 6 pupils, followed by Reception and Year 1 at staggered intervals.

Headteacher Debra Hines wrote in a letter: “Social distancing will be encouraged. However, it is widely acknowledged that this will be very challenging for young pupils.”

Swalecliffe Primary School head Ben Cooper told parents how the risk level is currently judged as moderately safe rather than low.

Joy Lane Junior School headteacher Debra Hines said social distancing could be "challenging for young pupils. Picture: Barry Duffield
Joy Lane Junior School headteacher Debra Hines said social distancing could be "challenging for young pupils. Picture: Barry Duffield

In a letter last week, he said: “Currently there is considerable concern both from school leaders and from the unions representing staff and staff themselves that the proposed arrangements as outlined by the government are unsafe and unsatisfactory.”

But he said the school is preparing to begin increasing limited numbers of children in a phased return.

School leaders and unions representing staff at Westmeads Community Infant School have considerable concern about proposed arrangements outlined by the government - branding them “unsafe and unsatisfactory”.

But headteacher Helen Lambirth said some Year R children will return on June 8 and some Year 1 children could return no earlier than June 15 - but this could change.

St Mary’s Catholic Primary School is preparing to reopen tomorrow for Reception and Year 6.

The Whitstable School’s Ana Gibson says she needs to see “compelling evidence” before she will let her students back.

Read more: All the latest news from Whitstable


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